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Intel Core i7-875k and i5-655k processor review

Rating: 9.0.


KitGuru has been overclocking since speeds were measured in MegaHz. In all those years, we’ve never seen a chip taken to 5GHz on air. Never. Until now.

After the FX fell to Conroe, Intel has dominated the performance CPU market for many years. AMD’s eggs are all in the Fusion basket and not expected to be hatched until Q2 2011.

However, one valiant design group managed to deliver the Thurban, 6-core Phenom II X6 product range to market (purely as a stop gap). The unlocked Black Edition 1090 went some way to appeasing AMD’s die-hard fan base.

Unfortunately, that launch seems to have stirred a beast. That beast has an R&D budget bigger than the GDP of many small nations. It has a marketing operation that makes ‘wet ice on wet ice’ look sticky. And it has enormous engineering muscle. All of those advantages have been thrown into creating the ‘special K’ edition processors for l33t enthusiasts who want crazy-clocks delivered for meagre-money.

Having spent days testing the Core i5 655k and Core i7 875k in our labs, KitGuru feels confident in saying… OMG.

Unfortunately for AMD, Intel’s processors not only offer more computational performance via smaller silicon per clock cycle, its chips also consume less power while doing so.

Intel has the edge. Several edges, from the design stage to final manufacturing. Although, in my opinion, they have also been lax in targeting specific sectors. Relying on a ‘one size fits almost all’ approach. Until now.

As we opened the two little processor boxes, we could almost hear the bell in the background.

Unlocked cores?   Unlocked multipliers?
Wake up Phenom X6.
Ding, ding. There’s a new challenger in the ring.

The Core i5-655k is an unlocked version of the Core i5-650 and the Core i7-875k is an unlocked Core i7-870. These K Series versions are linked to identical core clocks, thermal dynamics and Turbo frequencies as their locked counterparts. The edge however is in the fact that you can adjust the memory and core multipliers on the fly.

Furthermore if we told you the 875k was actually cheaper than the 870k would your ears prick up? No, I am not kidding because the UK pricing is looking to be around £299 inc vat for the unlocked 875k with the locked 870 still costing around £420. While we would expect the price of the 870 to drop soon it just proves that Intel really have taken off the gloves.

With so many processors in the current line up, lets do a little recap to get things clear in our head.

CPU
Cores
Threads
Base core clock speed
Peak turbo clock speed
L3 cache size
Memory channels
TDP
Core i5-650
2
4
3.2ghz
3.46ghz
4 MB
2
73W
Core i5-655k
2
4
3.2ghz
3.46ghz
4 MB
2
73W
Core i5-661
2
4
3.33ghz
3.6ghz
4 MB
2
87W
Core i5-670
2
4
3.46ghz
3.73ghz
4 MB
2
73W
Core i5-680
2
4
3.6ghz
3.86ghz
4 MB
2
73W
Core i5-750
4
4
2.66ghz
3.20ghz
8 MB
2
95W
Core i7-860
4
8
2.80ghz
3.46ghz
8 MB
2
95W
Core i7-870
4
8
2.93ghz
3.60ghz
8 MB
2
95W
Core i7-875K
4
8
2.93ghz
3.60ghz
8 MB
2
95W

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